Joseph Finder is one of my two favorite domestic, thriller writers. He takes me from 0 to 100 suspense-kilowatts in a couple seconds. How does he do it?
His secret is he doesn’t do it in seconds. Not really. He layers seemingly unimportant details into the story that build upon one another. They build and build until you go, “Oh no! That can’t happen!!! What will the hero do?” Your heart hammers in your chest and you try to keep breathing. Yeah, he’s that good.
Every time Joseph Finder publishes a new book, I swear it’s my favorite. At the moment my favorite is Suspicion, the story of a single dad who borrows money to keep his daughter in the school she loves and then finds out the man he borrowed from is trouble.
Now About the Eyes
Eyes fascinate me. They are the first thing I look at when I meet someone. I forget names, but I never forget eyes. For example, when I met my husband his chocolate brown eyes were filled with mischief and a joy for life that drew me in. My dear mother-in-law’s, however, were filled with suspicion. Over the years most of my bosses had cold eyes filled with a mixture of boredom and expectation. The color, shape and intensity of eyes vary greatly. I can read eyes, but writing them is difficult.
So I decided to examine how my hero Finder does it. Here are two quotes I underlined in my well worn copy of Power Play, a story about a corporate get-away in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest that goes terribly wrong.
“Except for his pewter gray eyes, flat and cold: something terribly detached about them, something removed and unnerving. The eyes of a sociopath, maybe; someone who didn’t feel what others felt. I’d seen eyes like his before, at Glenview. He was a man who was capable of doing anything because he was restrained by nothing.
I felt a cold hard lump form in my stomach.” (p. 248, St. Martin’s ed.)
A Lover’s Eyes
“She looked up at me, her head cocked to one side. The light caught her eyes. Golden flecks in her irises. Sunflowers, I thought. They look like sunflowers.” (p. 28, St Martin’s ed.)
Sigh . . .
Finder’s details pull in the reader’s emotions of love and fear. . . and everything in between. His eyes aren’t flat circles. His eyes breath life into the story.
Double sigh. Back to the wip for me. I’m going to search out the eyes in my manuscript and see if I can’t enhance them. Wish me luck.
What about you? Who is your favorite thriller writer and why do you like them? As always, I’d love to hear from you.
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PS – Joseph Finder retweeted my tweet promoting this post and added the comment: “Wow, that’s flattering – thanks!” Pretty cool of him to do that.